Parks and Schools, a Disconnect?

by Anna S.

In this map I combined datasets of the public schools of Chicago, locations of public parks in the city, and public works of art. During my presentation, I discussed a network of architects and architecture students, thinking of it as more social than internet-oriented. My idea was to connect people to each other rather than to devices. And because I found it increasingly difficult to find datasets and maps that pertained to architecture students specifically, I decided to connect schools, art, and public places. I’ve found that one of the places where people can connect intimately in an unstructured environment is public park space. The gathering of people in one small setting immediately connects them in a geographical sense, and with the dawn of social applications such as Pokemon Go people are bonding face-to-face now more than they have in recent years. The way that art ties in is the attraction of people towards aesthetics and towards eye-catching landmarks. People naturally gravitate towards things that interest them and this common interest in art and in various icons in public space intrinsically unites them.

I also thought it might be enticing to see if there was a relationship between these public spaces and schools. There is hardly an environment in which people bond and create close relationships as effectively as school, and as I wanted to examine particularly the connections between architecture students I thought it could be a good idea to expand that study to a larger group of students. What I found interesting in mapping these three sets of data is that there does not seem to be a lot of schools near public parks or works of art. There is certainly a correlation between public art and parks- most public pieces are displayed in parks, after all. But it doesn’t seem that parks and schools influence each other. Or, rather, they seem to have an inverse correlation; in places heavy with parks and greenery there are exceedingly few schools (see: the Millennium Park/Grant Park area, the Jackson Park area).